MISSOULA – Effective Monday, June 1, Mountain Line will return to operating regular fixed-route and paratransit service with two exceptions. First, Route 8 will only operate during peak service hours until further notice. Second, Mountain Line’s Shuttle Van service will remain suspended for the time being. The Downtown Transfer Center lobby will also open June 1.
All COVID-19 precautions will remain in place, including the requirement that all riders over the age of 2 and medically able must wear a mask or other cloth face covering while onboard. Also still in place is rear door boarding, unless boarding assistance is required; a restricted physical-distancing zone behind each operator; and the intensive cleaning and disinfection of buses and equipment multiple times daily.
“While Missoula has not had a confirmed case of COVID-19 in many weeks, there continue to be new cases across the state and nation,” said Jennifer Sweten, director of operations at Mountain Line. “Requiring face coverings be worn by all who can provides an added layer of protection to our passengers and employees.”
Mountain Line has made it through the pandemic thus far without a single employee contracting the virus. Mountain Line credits this success in large part to the attention and dedication to safety by all employees and the quick adoption of best practices as outlined by the CDC and Missoula City-County Health Department for guarding against the spread of COVID-19.
“The effect of our state entering Phase Two on ridership is unknown, but we expect numbers to slowly increase over the coming months," said Mountain Line General Manager, Corey Aldridge. "It’s important as we transition to operating in a new normal that we remain vigilant in protecting against the spread of COVID-19, while also moving forward to fulfill our mission of serving this community to benefit us all.”
Transit agencies across the county have been severely impacted by COVID-19 and many agencies temporarily adopted zero-fare models during the height of the pandemic, like that already in place at Mountain Line, to decrease the chances of exposure for operators. One unexpected outcome of the pandemic for Mountain Line is that its Zero-fare program, in place since 2015, has positioned the agency as a national leader in zero-fare transit for agencies across the U.S. looking to make the transition permanent.
Like many agencies, Mountain Line is adapting to operating in a new normal and will continue to work closely with local health officials to put the health and safety of our community first.
“What the future holds for Mountain Line and transit in general is unknown,” said Sweten. “But we will continue to adapt and evolve into a new, stronger Mountain Line as we move forward.”
For schedules effective Monday, June 1, please visit https://www.mountainline.com/maps-schedules/route-schedules/.